11 Hous. J. Int'l L. 159 (1988-1989)
Room for Maneuver: Some Policy Issues in the Iran-Countra Affair

handle is hein.journals/hujil11 and id is 167 raw text is: ROOM FOR MANEUVER: SOME POLICY
ISSUES IN THE IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR
Paul Schott Stevens*
It is generally agreed that issues posed by the Iran-Contra Affair are
important to our political life. There are differences of opinion, and cer-
tainly of emphasis, as to what these are and what lesson we draw. My
own views of the Iran-Contra Affair are decisively influenced by the part
I have taken, while legal advisor, and subsequently executive secretary, at
the National Security Council (NSC), in preparing and implementing a
series of directives issued by the President1 in the wake of his Special
Review Board's February 1987 report.2 As the President observed, the
Special Review Board report was well-stocked with criticisms,' but it
contained no findings on which he hesitated to act. And act he did-
redeeming his pledge to go beyond the board's recommendation so as to
put the house in even better order.' From where I sit, the results of the
President's initiatives are particularly satisfying. Permit me, at the out-
set, briefly to review the record.
First, the model of the NSC system recommended by the Special
Review Board is now solidly in place and serving the President well. The
council has resumed its intended role as the principal forum for consider-
ation of all national security policy issues requiring Presidential decision.
The model has reaffirmed the dual capacities in which the council's se-
nior officials serve the President: as principal advisors within their re-
spective policy areas, and as department and agency heads responsible
for implementing Presidential decisions. It also has underscored the
* Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and Executive Secre-
tary of the National Security Council.
1. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE PRESIDENT'S SPECIAL RE-
VIEW BOARD, NATIONAL SECURITY DECISION DIRECTIVE 266 (Mar. 31, 1987); NATIONAL
SECURITY COUNCIL INTERAGENCY PROCESS, NATIONAL SECURITY DECISION DIRECTIVE
276 (June 9, 1987); NATIONAL SECURITY DECISION DIRECTIVE 286 (title and date not pub-
licly available). The President's message to Congress on Mar. 31, 1987 transmitted the text of
National Security Decision Directive [hereinafter NSDD] 266. 133 CONG. REC. S4287 (daily
ed. Mar. 31, 1987) (message from the President). The text of NSDD 276 has been declassified
and made available to the public by the National Security Council [hereinafter NSC], as has
part of the text of NSDD 286.
2. REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT'S SPECIAL REVIEW BOARD V-7 (Feb. 26, 1987).
3. President's Address to the Nation, 23 WEEKLY COMP. PRES. Doc. 219, 220 (Mar. 4,
1987).
4. Id. at 221.

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